Displaced villagers to get stands

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
MBERENGWA Rural District Council (RDC) is set to compensate villagers who have been resisting relocation from around Mataga Growth Point for the past 19 years with residential stands and an irrigation scheme to pave way for the growth point’s expansion.

The two parties recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see the Gorongwe community that has been living on land adjacent to Mataga Growth Point finally relocating to pave way for council to kick start a project to develop the area.

The MoU between council and the local community was reached following the intervention of a local Non-Government Organisation (NGO), the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT).

Mberengwa RDC recently adopted guidelines and recommendations which were produced by a Midlands Working Group which had representatives from Government and the eight rural district councils in the province with support from CCMT.

Addressing the Mberengwa RDC planning committee meeting on Friday, chairperson, councillor Milo Zhou welcomed the signing of the MoU which he said will pave way for development of the area.

“What we want to see is development of our area because that will also result in the uplifting of people’s livelihoods. Council is committed to seeing the fruition of this MoU,” said Cllr Zhou.

Council planning officer Mr Percy Mwedzi said for the 19 years, Mataga growth point had failed to expand and develop because of the squabbles between the RDC and the local community.

“Council could not develop, subdivide Gorongwe community land since the villagers were refusing to relocate and 19 years were wasted. If development had started 19 years ago, Mataga growth point could have been more developed than other growth points in the country,” he said.

Mr Samuel Nkomo representing the Gorongwe community said the impasse had also negatively affected villagers who were afraid of being evicted.

“So we were not even attending to the fields because we were afraid our efforts would go to waste if we were evicted. But we are happy CCMT brought us together and we will be compensated as we also pave way for the expansion of our growth point,” he said.

Mr Nkomo said council had agreed to compensate them with residential stands, an irrigation scheme and a flea market stand.

“Council agreed to compensate us for relocating us to another area after the intervention of CCMT.

“For 19 years we have been at each other’s throats which is unfortunate because no party won. We only lagged behind collectively as Mberengwa people.
Now it’s time to work together for the development of our area,” he said.

Mberengwa District Administrator Mr Stewart Chiwanga said guidelines and recommendations for compensating communities displaced by the growth point’s expansion and rural development projects should be commended and adopted by all rural district councils in the country as guidelines to solving such disputes which derail development.

“We welcome the end of the impasse and we look forward to the socioeconomic development of Mberengwa district,” he said.

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